Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Hideous Love

Hideous Love
By Stephanie Hemphill
Expected publication October 1, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Mary Shelley was just a teenager when she wrote Frankenstein, but she wasn't an ordinary teenager. Here is the story of her life - her loves and the experiences which led her to create on of literature's classic novels.

It's not secret that I adore novels in verse - I think I've mentioned it about a billion times here before. In fact, I just recently went on one of my little sprees of reading a bunch of verse novels in a row. As it happened, I had an e-galley of this sitting on my computer, waiting to be read, so I dove in.

I wanted to like this book. I adored Hemphill's verse portrait of Sylvia Plath and her fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials. Even though Frankenstein is one of my most despised assigned readings, I expected she could do great things with the story of its creation. I am so disappointed that I was utterly wrong about that.

This book is not good. Just not. The verse adds nothing to the story - it's not imaginative and evocative as it was in her other works and it just reads poorly here. In addition, this book is boring. BORING. I'm surprised that I find myself saying that but it is so, so true. From what I can tell, Shelley led a pretty interesting life and the story of how she wrote Frankenstein is rather interesting as well. Somehow, Hemphill manages to make everything decidedly uninteresting. It seems very odd to say but this book drags at the same time it feels rushed. What is there feels tedious, but at the same time, it seems that Hemphill could have done a lot more with parts of the story and made them more interesting (well, maybe).

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that there is rather extensive back matter: a list of who's who, a timeline of Shelley's life, and a bibliography. Great for the readers who are interested and left wanting more from this story.

I have a really hard time figuring out who this book might appeal to - I'm not sure many kids will care to read a fictionalized biography of Mary Shelley. I'm not sure who I'd recommend this to.

In summary, I wish this book had been better.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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